Tracking Budgets + Keeping Projects Organized

As y'all know, we're about to embark on a serious kitchen renovation over here! Last week I filled you in on plans, materials and finishes, and today I'm going to talk a little bit about how I'm keeping this project organized and making sure we're staying on budget.

Since so much goes into a kitchen renovation (or any big house project for that matter), I knew there was no way I could keep everything straight in my head - let alone stick to a budget - without a little bit of help from technology. I found that a combination of two tools, Pinterest and itsums, worked beautifully for me.

The first tool I used, and probably the most obvious one, was Pinterest.

Pinterest is an awesome resource for finding inspiration and keeping track of favorite images you find on the web, but did you know that you can create secret boards that no one else can see? These are perfect for project planning because you can corral not only the pretty images, but the practical things too, like floor tile samples, that you like. You can also invite others to pin to these secret boards (or regular boards if you want to go that route), so if you have a partner in the project, it's a nice way to be able to collaborate together.

I started a secret board (I guess it's not so secret anymore since there's a screenshot of it above!) for our kitchen remodel almost a year ago, way before we knew it was going to happen for real. It was fun to dream about it and allow my plan to develop over time as I honed in on how I wanted things to look and what kind of budget we'd have.

Speaking of budgets, one thing Pinterest can't do is track those. That's where my second tool, itsums, comes into play. This one's a game changer, y'all - for real.

I started using itsums for my kitchen remodel, but now I'm using it for client projects too because it's just that helpful!

It has some similarities to Pinterest in that you can create different "boards," (called sum boards) "pin" from websites, and add bits of information to each image, but where it differs from Pinterest is that it's primarily a budgeting tool. It's much less focused on pretty images and more focused on the practical part of a project - knowing where the money is going.

For example, for our kitchen project, I created a sum board called "Kitchen Remodel" and put in our budget. Then, every time I picked out an item for the kitchen, I added it to the board using the handy little itsums bookmarklet, which, when you click it, pops up in a window like this:

There you add the item's price, how many you need, which board you want to add it to, the category (if you want - this isn't always necessary) and any notes about the item. Once you hit save, you can choose to view the sum board, which looks like this:

On the left, you can scroll through and see all the items you've added, and on the right you can see the sum of the items, your overall budget, etc. Once a project is going and you start buying items, you can hover over them and click "purchased." The "purchased" section on the right will automatically update and show you what you've spent in real time. Pretty cool huh? There's also an option to "hide" the item from your budget if you're not sure you're planning on purchasing it. I've used that option when I've found multiple options for an item (like tile) and I'm not sure which one I'm going to buy yet, but I want to keep track of them all for the time being. I can toggle the hide/show to see how different ones will affect my budget.

And if you're super organized, you can add categories to the project and keep track of how much you spend on each one. I created a bunch for our kitchen remodel like appliances, flooring and cabinets. It can be handy to be able to go right to the board and find out the total cost of a group of items.

Now, could I do this kind of budgeting in Excel or something similar? Well sure, but it's a heck of a lot more cumbersome to do it that way! With itsums, all the information is right there - no math to do, no copying and pasting of links, and no trying to remember what something looks like.

Have I sold you on itsums yet? :)

It really is so so helpful and I've found it to be a lifesaver for staying on track with this project. A kitchen remodel is no small undertaking and this tool has helped keep me sane during all the planning and purchasing!

What projects are y'all working on these days? Have you ever used itsums to help you manage them? Or do you have other tools you like to use?


(P.S. I feel like I should make the disclaimer that Pinterest and itsums did not ask me to write about them - they don't even know I exist! I just love to share about awesome tools and tricks that I find all over the web with you, my lovely readers!)

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